Donna in Hollywoodland

The blog from Los Angeles and Hollywood by Donna Grayson

Saturday, October 01, 2005

God Can Heal You - uh-huh

Due to the doctors appointments this week, I went in to the office today for a few hours, to make up my time.
I need to save the little sick time I have left, for when I do the Radiation Treatment.

I went in late about one o'clock, so when I left I would go directly to Saturday evening church service.

I had wanted to visit Shepherd in the Hills out in Porter Ranch.
But with the California wild fires going, I decided that it would not be a good idea to drive out there.

I went to The Church on The Way instead.

Part of it is that my regular church Hollywood Presbyterian has so many problems right now. They put the pastor on leave of absence. Most of the congregation has left because of it.
And I want a big church, with lots of activities. If I have to drive a way to find it, thats okay.
And if the church also has Saturday night and/or Sunday night services, in addition to Sunday morning, that would be even better - because there is more flexibility as to when I can go to church, and what I can do on my Sunday.

Well, Church on The Way meets alot of those points. Their Sunday bulletin is like a magazine, there is so much to do.
But there is a difference between the two denominations. Hollywood Presbyterian is Presbyterian. Church on the Way is Foursquare. I am no comparative religion expert, but let me explain one difference as I see it.

Presbyterians seem to pray very traditionally, and quietly. When I've had people pray for me about the cancer, they do ask God to heal. But its said very quietly and I wonder how much they believe what they are asking for. I even heard one Presbyterian Minister talk against Faith Healers, and how they leave people emotionally devastated when the prayers don't work.
With an attitude like that, I really have not seen alot of sickly people at the Presbyterian services.

As for the Foursquare Denomination, they are considered either Pentecostal or Charismatic - and they definitely believe in Spiritual miracles. They pray and ask God to heal, and they really expect that God will do something about it

So it was difficult for me to be a the Church on The Way service tonight. There were sick people there who needed God to heal them. Not alot. But a few.
The next aisle over, there was a woman who was in the middle of chemotherapy. She was bald, and wearing a pink plastic bracelet.
It really made me uncomfortable to look at her. That could be me some day. It was hard. I didn't handle it very well. It put me in a weird emotional space.
(When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, someone sent me a Lance Armstrong bracelet. I wore it for about 2 hours, and then took it off. I hated it. Every time I looked at my wrist, I was reminded I had cancer.)

In the row in front of me, there was a woman with really bad Parkinsons. She shook alot, all through-out the service.
I panicked alittle, wondering if I should move. I worried about a germ jumping on me. "Oh, calm down" I told myself.
Its amazing how having something like Breast Cancer, and going through surgery, has made me so phobic.
The woman behind me coughed a few times, and if I had anything to be phobic about - it should be catching a cold from her.
Fear is a really weird irrational thing sometimes.

Then of course, the Service. Part of the message was: God Wants to Heal You.
I listened, but part of me was emotionally shut off. Its to hard to ask for that right now.
I can't imagine God healing me.
I can't imagine the Doctors healing me.
I have more faith in vitamins, food supplements and organic produce right now.
I think alot of these feelings is that I blame myself - for eating too much junk, and not loosing weight, and not taking care of my 40-something year old body.

Towards the end of the service, they asked us to hold hands with 3 other people and pray.
I was honest about my prayer "I had a cancerous tumor removed from my beast. And now I want wisdom about that steps to take next. Wisdom for the doctors, Wisdom for me."

One girl in our group - the girl with the cough - chirped up "Maybe God will just heal you."

I just looked the floor and didn't answer.

Friday, September 30, 2005

The Falcon Theatre

I found a new place to do volunteer work The Falcon Theatre in Toluca Lake.
It is on Riverside Drive, right near Sebastians Restaurant. On the way to the "Lost" TV show party, I had driven passed it. And I called to see if they ever needed volunteers.

Well, yes they do. And if you Usher for them, you get to go in and see the play for free.
I have been looking for a theatre like that for a while. Alot of theatres in Hollywood require you to be a member of the theatre company to even just take tickets. Or visa versa ... they expect that you want to take tickets so you can work your way into the theatre company.

I just want to take tickets, and see really good theatre for free.
I don't care about being in a theatre company right now.

The play that was on tonight was Barbra's Wedding , with Daniel Stern and Crystal Bernard .
Its a really funny play about a married couple who live down the street from Barbra Streisand , and what happens on Barbra's wedding day.

It was fun to take the tickets. But I got alittle confused. I had to show people to their seats in addition to taking the tickets and handing them the program. And the evening was full, so it was really busy.
After half the people were seated, all of a sudden it hit me - I had been told to rip the tickets too. I was supposed to tear off the little end of the ticket and keep it. And in the learning process, I had forgot.

Oh, how embarrassed I was.
The Box Office Manager came by. I told him "I just realized, I forgot to rip the ticket."
He just repeated "You forgot to rip the ticket."
I am sure he told The House Manager, my boss.
Right after the play was over, I went directly to the House Manager.
"Oh, I am so sorry, I forgot to rip the ticket stub off." I said apologizing and with a smile.
She was very nice about it "Oh, thats okay, its alot to learn on your first night."
But oh .... I was so embarrassed.

There were alot of interesting people in the audience. Entertainment industry folks, I could tell.
So it was a good crowd to hang around with.

After the show, I picked up the trash on the floor of the theatre, which was part of my duties. Then went home.

Company Lunch and Recognition

Our boss's boss had announced that our entire department was being treated out to lunch in honor of all the anniversaries.
It was to celebrate everyone who had been there 1 year, 3 years, 5 years or 10 years.

So my entire accounting department - about 24 people or so - walked over to Off Vine Restaurant for lunch on the company.
We took up the entire second floor of the restaurant. And there were about 6 people to a table.

Eating out is still really hard since I am trying to stick to an anti-cancer diet.
The waiter told us the soup was Asparagus Soup. I asked if it was creamy or had dairy products. No, it was not. Just alittle butter.
Okay, I'll get that.
Then I ordered Salmon. I asked the waiter what it came with.
He answered, 3 different vegetables. Okay, that will work too.

The asparagus soup was delicious.
Then the salmon came - with green beans, mashed butternut squash, and broccoli baked in a creamy egg thing like a casserole.
I asked one of my co-workers "Is that cheese in the broccoli?"
The answer was Yes.
Ok, no broccoli for me.

Then I took a few bits of the mashed butternut squash.
I asked another coworker "Is there milk in the squash?"
Yes, there was.
Ok, no butternut squash for me.

Only salmon and green beans. I am glad I got the asparagus soup.

Then we all asked what the deserts were.
The waiter went on about the rich chocolate cakes and things.
I asked if he had any fruit.
"We have a Mixed berry pie", the waiter replied.
"Oh, a mixed berry pie !" I said
"To be honest, its not very good" said the waiter, "Its just berries"
I said I will try it anyway.
He asked if I wanted ice cream on it, or whipped cream.
No, just plain.

The plain mixed berry pie arrived, and it was delicious.
I told the waiter "Don't tell people the mixed berry pie isn't good. It is delicious. And very healthy."
He said "Oh, maybe thats why I didn't like it - to healthy."

As we had deserts, my boss's boss got up and made a speech about all the anniversaries. And told everyone congratulations on their anniversary of being with the company.

When we got back to the office, there were these really nice plaques on our desks.

Its a music company that I work for, and they had these really nice plaques made up for all the employees who had reached their one year, 3 year, 5 year and 10 year anniversary.
If you had been there one year, you got a chocolate CD.

What I got for being there 3 years (actually 4, so I should get another one next year) was a nice plaque with a blue CD, and my name and my employment start date.

Employees who had been there 5 or 10 years, got records or gold records, and the plaques were bigger.

All the employees were happily surprised, because this was the first time the company had done this.

I really would like to keep my plaque at the office. But I am in a cubicle, and I don't have wall. So I don't know if I will bring it home or not.

All in all it was a really nice day at the office.

Click on the pic for a bigger view
Three Year Anniversary

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Oncologist #2

If you think of Oncologist #1 as Dr. Grumpy - well, Oncologist #2 would be Dr. Happy.
At least his offices were much nicer, and better organized.

They had me sit in an examining room. Dr. Happy came in and greeted me. He said it would just be a few more minutes while he looked over my files.
Ummm, he had had them for at least a week, and he was just looking at them this second ? Ok, whatever, I'll just sit there in the exam room.

I heard a nurse yell down the hallway."Dr. Happy, So and So is on the phone. They had a terrible reaction to the treatment they had yesterday. They have a 104 temperature. What should they do?"
Dr. Happy replied "Tell them to go into emergency. I am not in the Sherman Oaks office today."
The nurse sounded confused.
Dr Happy restated "I am not in Sherman Oaks today, they will have to go into Emergency."
Ummm.... we're in Burbank.. its not that far from Sherman Oaks. I thought, Couldn't his patient just come here to the Burbank office ?

Dr. Happy came in, and chatted with me. He went over all the usual Chemotherapy stuff.
He was alittle more positive - Where Dr. Grumpy estimated my chances of getting Cancer around 30%, with only a 7% reduction from Chemotherapy. Dr. Happy estimated my chances of getting cancer again at 20%, with a 10% reduction with chemo.
But then again, he's just a positive kind of guy.

He even used the word "Presume" instead of "Assume", when talking about cancer cells.
I said "So since the cancer was in one lymph node, you are going to assume I have cancer cells in my body."
He replied "Yes, we will presume that there are cancer cells, even tho we can't see them."
Maybe he had already heard the little saying I am so fond of "When you Assume, you make an Ass out of U and Me."
So Dr. Happy ... Presumes.

I wrote down the names of the Chemo drug on a piece of paper. And I told him I wanted to look them up on the Internet.

I asked "If I don't want Chemo - what is Plan B ?"
There is no Plan B - Chemo is the only option.
Dr. Happy said "If this were my sister, I would want her to have Chemotherapy."
Ah, how nice.

So I brought up the Boarderline Enlarged Heart that showed on my CT Scan. And the fact that I only have one kidney, and I absolutely do not want that kidney damaged in anyway.

Dr. Happy felt that the one drug he was going to give me that had Heart failure listed as a Possible Risk - well, this drug only did that with over 8 dosages. And he would only give me 4 dosages. So he felt that risk was eliminated.

As for my one kidney - he does get credit for thinking it out - He would divide the drugs up.
I would get 2 drugs for 3 months, followed by 1 drug for 3 months. He felt by dividing them up, it would be less stressful to my One Kidney.
Well, that sounded alot better to me - until it hit me that would mean a full 6 months of chemo. Thats a Half of a Year.
(The first oncologist suggested 4 months with all 3 drugs together.)

He almost suckered me in. The idea of dividing up the drugs gave me hope he might actually be a good chemo doctor.
He was thinking at least.
And he told me he had given chemo to patients with only one kidney in the past.
Wow, this is sounding alot more reassuring.
Until .....

I said "We've gone over the hair loss, and nausea that are side effects. And the possible Heart problems, and damage to my one kidney. What other Risks or Side Effects are there ?"

Dr. Happy looked me straight in the eye. "None, thats it."

I repeated, looking him straight in the eye "There are no other side effects ? Other than the hair loss, nausea, heart or kidney problems?"

"No other risks, thats it" said Dr. Happy again.

The man looked me straight in the face and lied to me.
A nice, happy lie.

He didn't mention my hands and feet turning yellow, my nails falling out of the nail bed, the lining of my bladder coming off in sheets. All these wonderful possible side effects that I can so easily find by looking up the name of the drug on
the Internet.

That was that, I was definitely done with Dr. Happy.
I told him he had been my second opinion, and that I was most likely getting a third opinion too.
He smiled, and told me to make a decision in a few weeks.

As I was at the front desk making my insurance co-payment, a man was checking in his wife for her chemotherapy treatment. He seemed worried and nervous.
He said to the nurse "You know, when you gave her the treatment last time, she had a terrible reaction."
Whatever the nurse said to him didn't help, he continued to look worried.

Okay - Count that as the 3rd "Bad Reaction" story I have heard just hanging around an Oncologists office.
The first one being with Oncologist #1 when he had to dash out of the room because the patient was having a bad reaction.
The second being the high fever the one of Dr. Happy's patient had before my appointment.
Last, now the worried Husband.

And so far ... no Doctor has mentioned the term "Bad Reaction" when discussing any side effects from chemo.

I have made my decision - there will be no chemotherapy for me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


I was scheduled to go back to Oncologist #1 to get the Echocardiogram test results on Friday.
Well, today the receptionist called me and rescheduled it to next week.
The reason - the doctor was filling in for another doctor, and he was busy.

I already know that Oncologist #1 isn't going to touch me. So I don't care about that.
I am just anxious to get the test results. And now I will have to wait a few more days.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


If medical tests could be fun, an EchoCardiogram might be considered fun.
I mean, you get to watch your heart pumping, and making all these bright colors on the screen.
Then you get to hear it go "Glub Glub" or "Swish Swish" when they turn on the sound.

I went back to the usual place Glendale Memorial's Radiology Dept. The Cardiologist and Technicians were very nice.

I layed on the table, and the Technician just kept pressing the Echocardigram wand into my chest area.
She was trying to be careful of my incisions, but she had to get a picture of all sides of my heart.

The reason for the Echocardiogram was that the CT Scan they took before my surgery, noted a "Borderling Enlarged Heart", which frightened the heck out of me, because that was the first I had ever heard of that problem.
so I was pretty freaked out about it.
When I spoke to the first Oncologist, I insisted he check out my heart to make sure I was healthy enough for any cancer treatments.

This was probably the easiest test I have ever had. Its basically just an unltrasound of your heart.
I can't wait until I get the results.

People at work were all concerned . "Did it go okay? Are you alright?"

"Well, they let me leave, didn't they?" I replied "They didn't yell 'Stat' and rush me into the operating room."
Yes, if you have an echocardiogram, and they let you go home - its a good sign.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Technical Sunday

I was so involved in trying to get my wireless working, it practically took up my whole day. And I still didn't get it figured out.

I did manage to make it out of the house to go volunteer at The Egyptian Theatre

Then I ran right back home to work on the computer.
The Lap Top was running great. It was the Wireless Connection that was driving me nuts.
No matter what I did, the "Setup Wizard" disc that they put in with the wireless router kept freezing up.
I thought I did the on-line registration, but it froze, and then when I did it again it would go through.

I had the computer on the couch, and I was sitting on the floor.
I was so involved with my work that I didn't realize I was leaning on my left hand.
Yeah, the left hand on the left side where they removed th lymph nodes during my Lumpectomy.

All of a sudden I thought "My hand feels funny."
I brought my hand up, and oh dear Lord - it was swollen about twice its size.
I started to panic.

But the thing to do was raise it about my head. And do exercises, like opening and closing my fist.
It took a while - maybe a half hour. I could feel the fluid draining down inside my arm as I held it over my head.
That was a weird feeling.

And I was really mad with myself for forgetting about my left side, and leaning on that hand.

Not only that, I was so into my computer and my hand - that I missed the Season Premier of Desperate Housewives .
Now, that was the worst ...


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